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When everything comes together, life is in balance
As I've grown older, I've learned that things in life often don't work out the way you hope they will. But every now and then, they do. Last week, lots of little things came together to make me feel as if my work and life were, for once, in balance. - photo by Greg Kratz
As I've grown older and the hair in my beard has changed from auburn to gray and white, I've learned that things in life often don't work out the way you hope they will.

But now and then, they do.

Last week was one in which lots of little things came together to make me feel truly fortunate and as if my work and life were, for once, in perfect balance.

So, what made last week better more balanced than others?

Good news and good friends. Early in the week, my father was in a hospital for the second time this month. He was undergoing tests related to some serious health concerns, and I was quite worried about the outcome.

When my sister sent me an email to let me know that the results were in and they were all good, it started my week on a high note. As I shared the news with other family members and friends, I could see that they were genuinely relieved, too. There were smiles all around.

I'm hopeful that my dad and mom can enjoy life without doctors and hospitals for a while.

But my personal joy goes beyond that. The outpouring of love and concern I received from people who have only met my parents one or two times was amazing. To know that so many people care for me and my family truly touched me.

Spring nights under the lights. After their first two games were snowed out, my two younger daughters finally started their softball season last week.

This is good for them on so many levels. First, they're fortunate to be on a team with a group of girls who have been together for about three years. They've become friends, and they have a wonderful time on the diamond.

They also have an incredible coach. She expects the girls on her team to learn and improve, but she doesn't bully or belittle them. She strikes the perfect balance between communicating high expectations and making it clear that she cares for each player as an individual. I'm so glad my daughters get to play for her.

And for me, there's nothing better than sitting in a lawn chair on a brisk spring evening, watching my daughters experience the joys and frustrations that come with participating in a team sport.

Whether they win or lose, I get to take a couple of hours to forget about work, stress and household chores, and enjoy the beauty of green grass, a fiery sunset that turns to starry skies, and the sights and sounds of young people laughing, cheering and learning.

Busy days and big ideas. My week at work was extremely busy, filled with many meetings, including one retreat that kept me away from my cubicle for a full day.

I also had plenty of "real work" to do since our company's fiscal year ends June 30. That means I need to build my department's strategy and budget for the next fiscal year. Such efforts always keep me on my toes as I work with my team and my boss to create a viable plan for the future.

If I said I loved working on the budget, I'd be lying. However, I do like being busy it's much better than being bored so the workweek was a success in that respect.

All of the strategy talk also brought to light many ideas for new projects. While it's always a bit scary to launch something truly innovative, it's also exciting for me and my team.

I usually focus on the "life" part of work-life balance, but the work part is vital to my happiness, too. I'm thankful for a week that kept me engaged and energized during my hours in Cubeville.

A lazy Saturday and a quiet talk. Of course, that busy week also left me pretty exhausted by Friday night, so I was hoping our family's Saturday would be less hectic than usual.

Again, I got just what I wanted and needed. I was able to sleep in a bit and catch up on rest. I spent a couple of hours helping some friends move, and I've found that service is always good for the soul. We ran a few errands as a family and enjoyed a meal together, laughing and joking with each other all the while.

And then, as the children scattered throughout the house in the evening to read and play, my wife and I found ourselves together at the kitchen table with a chance to talk. So we did.

We talked about my job, her work with the PTA, a freelance story she's writing, our children, our extended family and anything else that came to mind. This chat reminded me, once again, how truly fortunate I am to spend my life with this intelligent, funny, wise, beautiful woman.

As the day ended, and it came time to write this column, I stared for a few minutes at the blank screen in front of me, wondering what words of wisdom I could share about work-life balance this week.

Then I realized that I didn't have any groundbreaking ideas to offer.

What I did have was a chance to reflect on a week in which my balance seemed just right. And I wish the same to you.
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